Make-believe wedding real for couple in Westminster


ON SEPT. 7, Tina Putnam and Gene Dudik of Westminster exchanged vows on the grounds of historic Union Mills Homestead in Silver Run. It was a fairy-tale wedding.

Mount Airy resident Steve Flynn sang tunes that had guests whispering, "He sounds like Frank Sinatra."

Tina looked radiant in her straight-cut, spaghetti-strapped, beaded gown and pearled tiara from Serendipity Bridal in Hampstead. Hours earlier, she had relaxed at Venus and Co. while stylists did her makeup and hair.

The fairy tale included a limousine (Lasting Impressions), elegant flowers (Flowers by Evelyn), delectable cake (Just Desserts), videography (Joe O'Ferrell) and professional photographer (David English Photography).

If this sounds like a commercial, it was.

Not long ago, Donna Yeager, banquet coordinator for Maggie's Restaurant, wedding consultant and president of Wedding Professionals of Maryland, was coordinating details for a promotional event.

The centerpiece for the event was a mock wedding, but fluke circumstances left Yeager without a bride.

Tina, a server at Maggie's, was engaged and planning a wedding for Sept. 24, 2003. Yeager approached Tina - and the mock wedding became real.

"We printed 500 invitations, for vendors and to be sent to prospective brides," Yeager said.

"The prospective brides thought they were coming to a mock wedding. We didn't want to tell them it was real. Who wants to come to a wedding for someone you don't know?"

Other than Tina and Gene's wedding rings and the wedding certificate, everything else was provided. That included bridesmaids (Laura Smith and Melissa Allen of Baltimore), ring bearer (Joey Frazier of Westminster), flower girls (Summer Pool and Carrie O'Farrell of Westminster), usher (Ryan Andrew Morris of Westminster), best man (Joe Hendershot of Sykesville), father of the bride (Charles Yeager), father of the groom (Charles Cull), and mother of the bride (Janice Helsel of Hanover, Pa.).

"Well, actually, the mother of the groom was real," said Tina. "Gene's mom [Margaret Dudik] was there. So were many of his other relatives.

"The whole wedding was unbelievable," she added. "I never dreamed we'd have a wedding like this - well, we couldn't have. It's still hard to believe that we're married."

After the ceremony and traditional tossing of the bouquet, Tina and Gene joined the "guests" who mingled from booth to booth, where vendors offered advice about wedding planning and starting life together.

The couple acknowledges that their wedding had a commercial twist they didn't expect. But what matters most to them are their feelings for each other.

"The whole event was a neat idea," said Mike Kremer, certified financial planner and insurance agent. "There was the gift of the wedding, as well as the opportunity for people to visit with the different businesses."

Kremer offered visitors advice about insurance and financial planning.

"Couples often need help with combining individual insurance policies into one household so there is no overlap," Kremer said. "Plus, I like to help them with cash management, debt management and making use of employer-sponsored benefits and retirement plans."

Tina and Gene Dudik honeymooned by taking the day off Monday. "We spent time together during the day and then that evening we played bingo at the Moose Lodge," Tina said.

Treasure honored

Ben Rogers, investment representative with Edward Jones, honors Nancy McCormick, economic development director for Taneytown, as his Living Treasure this week.

"She is the one who coordinates the monthly Taneytown business breakfasts," said Rogers. "It is the best-attended and most informative breakfast in the county because Nancy does a fantastic job pulling things together. ... The sessions are highly energetic, and Nancy is great at focusing on networking opportunities, which helps everyone's business."

Brighten the day of someone who has made a positive difference in your life.

Submit a name and specific reasons why that person has been your Living Treasure to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157, 410-848-4703.

Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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